The following project is the conclusion of the education as marine and technological engineer. The project consists of a practical internship and a period of documenting the work and obtained experiences.
We decided to travel to a rurally located jungle hospital called Masanga in the West African country, Sierra Leone. The country has experienced a devastating decade-long civil war, which left the people traumatized, and the infrastructure in ruins, thus schools, hospitals, roads, and whole cities were destroyed.
Masanga hospital has been under Danish supervision since 2006, when Dr. Peter Bo Jørgensen and the Friends of Masanga association started a ten year rebuilding project. In 2016 the plan is that the hospital yet again will be handed over to the locals, who hopefully will be able to run it themselves based on profits from business departments on the hospital compound.
As a technician in the jungle you need to understand and cope with the local culture, which is a lot different from ours. Our main focus was to install two new generator sets and to reestablish running water on hospital grounds. Furthermore we questioned if the theories obtained during our studies were useful in a developing country.
The generator sets and the materials for the water project were shipped to Sierra Leone in a container. Unfortunately we never had the chance to see that container due to the fact that it left Denmark too late for us to conduct the work, we set off to do. Since we did not receive the materials for the water project, we prepared as much as possible for the arrival of the container. For this we did some detailed project planning in Microsoft Project, where the planning tools used included Gantt and network diagrams. During our work on the water project we experienced several leadership challenges due to the difference in culture and the different perception of work.
Another area of work was the challenge of technical maintenance and general operation of the hospital, which is prioritized less than the health sector, thus the vehicles, buildings and roads are in a worn out condition. In the project we find solutions, which can be directly used at the hospital, if the Masanga organization understands the importance of the matters. Our solutions include maintenance methods such as the 5 S’s, the Deming circle, root cause analysis, and preventive actions. Furthermore we made risk assessment and the necessary risk control on the cars, the generator, and the buildings in order to clarify to the board in Denmark, which measures would be advisable to take in the current situation. Among these were the much needed fundraising for running costs for the hospital.
After analyzing the organization in both Sierra Leone and Denmark, we discovered that no persons with technical background were involved directly in the board and thus not on fundraising matters. This is a problem alongside the fact that it is not easy fundraising the running costs. Change management is needed, and our idea is to consider this matter, when fundraising is dealt with. It is equally important to start asking the donors, if they could change their donation to a more relevant cause, like the running costs. This would give the hospital the opportunity to pay salaries and to keep the vehicles and technical equipment in a safer working condition. This includes the generator, which is essential in order to keep saving lives.